If you’re on Twitter, you will have noticed the glitches. Ever since Elon Musk took over and gutted the workforce, the app hasn’t been running smoothly. I’m not talking about the HBO-limited-series-worthy drama taking place back at Twitter HQ or the unpaid office rent. The behind-and-front-of-the-scenes flailing of the “genius” tech overlord is playing out in the functionality of the app. If there comes a day when it simply doesn’t load, I won’t be surprised. I also won’t be surprised if it doesn’t ever come back online. The necessary transfer of obscure institutional and technical knowledge may not have taken place in all the chaos of Musk's takeover of the company. If certain balls get dropped, it might be impossible to pick them up again.
While it wasn't an explosive trash fire like the rapid decline of Twitter, I’m reminded of what’s been happening at Medium. When I joined the site in 2018, I was already a relatively late adopter, but I got in just under the wire at a time when there was still a front page for the site, and it was possible for someone unknown to get featured. I was lucky enough to win that lottery a couple of times. Medium also paid pretty well, especially after they added their own in-house publications. I wrote some great pieces and worked with some great editors. In May of 2021, management nuked those publications from orbit. Medium hasn’t been the same since. It feels like a ghost ship to me now. Maybe I’m the one who has drifted away, but I find that it’s harder and harder to hear and be heard on the site.
There were red flags about what would happen at Medium. Every 12-18 months since I joined, there has been some cataclysmic change that causes upheaval for writers. Medium isn’t unique. Remember when fraudulent Facebook metrics convinced everyone to “pivot to video”? Online publishing never recovered. YouTube routinely makes paradigm-shifting changes to its algorithm that are disastrous for creators. Farther afield, the massacre of HBO’s catalog the new owners are carrying out is a particularly stark warning. Shows that were available only on HBO’s streaming service are disappearing, and no physical media of them has or will be sold. We can’t trust these sites and companies to be the keepers of our creations. To rely on them is to be one bad mergers and acquisitions transaction away from having your life’s work thrown in the trash. I’ve known that for some time, but I’ve been lazy about setting up my own platform, because of the reach I was getting on Medium. The landscape has shifted, though. Even for some early adopters with large followings on the site, the reads have dried up. It hardly seems worth it to post sometimes. If I’m going to yell into a void, I think it should be my own.
I’ve had a website for some time, so I decided to add a blog page to it. I’ll still use Medium on the off chance that I can catch a wave, but I was never really cut out for “power posting,” which is what you need to do to be successful on the site. You have to yell about the same things in the same way almost every day. I could for a while, but I burned out. Another problem is that I have too many varying interests, and you need a clear niche to really do well on a site like Medium, as it’s currently structured. Blogging on my own site will be more personal and casual and more frequent. I will continue to produce essays and longreads. I’m still working out exactly how and where I’ll share them.
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